Apparently when I was little, I really had to convince myself to believe in Santa Claus.
When I was about 9 or 10 I woke up on Christmas morning at my grandparents house. Naturally, I went speeding into the living room to see my loot.
Santa’s been here.
Starting at the fireplace, there were black, sooty footprints on the ground. They wound over to the coffee table, where I’d left milk and cookies last night. Then they backtracked to the Christmas tree and made a circle around it. Lastly, they led right back to the fireplace.
He’s really been here.
Now, I’ve always been a realist. Logical. Doubtful.
Just recently, I’d been digging through our spice cabinet (helping my mom bake for Thanksgiving) when I found something mysterious. It was an envelope filled with itty bitty teeth.
Well, guess that Tooth Fairy thing isn’t real.
Even at 9 I had some pretty killer deduction skills, so that was when I decided Santa Claus couldn’t be real either. And especially not the Easter Bunny. That’d just be silly.
As I stared at the sooty footprints, I tried to make sense of it all.
Maybe Santa is the exception.
It was a magical Christmas for me. I got a bike, tons of toys and real, hard evidence that Santa actually existed. I think that’s what I wanted the most. I just wasn’t ready to let Santa go yet.
Years later, I reflected on this story with my mom.
Yes, she and my dad put footprints down. But sooty footprints? No.
According to my mom, they were made out of flour, meant to look like SNOWY footprints.
Why would they be snowy? We were in Texas. There was no snow. Snow wouldn’t have stayed on his boots all the way from the North Pole. That’s dumb.
I think my mind had the same reaction all those years ago. That fireplace was old. It was logical that Santa could track in some soot. But not snow.
It seems I wanted, maybe needed, evidence of Santa so bad, that I turned those snowy footprints into sooty ones, because it made more sense to me.
My “evidence” gave me one more year of Santa. When I was 11, my parents spilled the beans to me – in a Pizza Hut.